It doesn’t surprise me that a lot people were disappointed by the acquittal of George Zimmerman – the Martin family in particular. They believed, as most parents would in the same situation, that the man who shot their 17 year-old child deserved to be held accountable in some meaningful way for the taking of their son’s life.
I get that.
But expressing disappointment and sorrow is one thing. Claiming that justice wasn’t served (as many have done over the past week) is another. Anyone who followed the trial with even an inkling of objectivity understands that there just weren’t any grounds for convicting George Zimmerman of a crime. He wasn’t found innocent due to a technicality. He wasn’t found innocent because of a racist jury or an incompetent prosecution. He was found innocent because all available evidence of what happened on the night Trayvon Martin was killed pointed to a classic case of self-defense.
What I’ve found shocking is that for far too may people, that just doesn’t seem to matter. The mere, unsubstantiated presumption that George Zimmerman is a racist has been grounds for disregarding practically everything that actually happened that tragic night. There was a real hope for Zimmerman to be convicted and sent off to prison, and it wasn’t because of anything that was presented during the case. It was because of the prejudicial thoughts that might have been running through Zimmerman’s mind when he first spotted Trayvon Martin walking through his neighborhood.
So when I listen to people call Florida an “apartheid state”, propose an economic boycott, and remark that it’s open season for killing black teenagers there, it seems to me that “justice” is the very last thing on their minds.
Clinging to a false conclusion, and doing so by willfully ignoring all evidence and facts that negate that conclusion more resembles a conspiracy theory than it does an earnest quest for justice. Like a conspiracy theory, the passion behind it isn’t fueled so much by the facts of the event, but rather by the general mistrust of a powerful establishment – in this case, what is perceived as the white establishment in this country. And when that mistrust is so deeply rooted, there’s always an eagerness by certain individuals to attribute heinous acts to it, without factoring fairness or accuracy into the equation.
In this case, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (among others) are those individuals. When you think about it, they aren’t so different than Alex Jones and Jesse Ventura: A pair of opportunistic nuts whose public relevance relies on the fanning of conspiratorial flames. Unfortunately, Sharpton and Jackson have more influence.
I would love for someone to try and make the case to me that associating Trayvon Martin’s name with self-serving charlatans somehow pays respect to the boy’s memory. Because as far as I can tell, all it’s done is make the “Justice for Trayvon” movement as shallow of a call to action as the 9/11 Truther movement’s call for “truth.”
It’s a rhetorical crusade driven by its own form of prejudice.
Who exactly is being served by that crusade? Certainly not the Martin family, and certainly not the African American community.